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critics consensus

Washington's performance rises above the material, but John Q pounds the audience over the head with its message. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Story centers on a man whose nine-year-old son is in desperate need of a life-saving transplant. When he discovers that his medical insurance won't cover the costs of the surgery and alternative government aid is unavailable, John Q. Archibald (Denzel Washington) takes a hospital emergency room hostage in a last-ditch attempt to save his child.

Cast & Crew

Denzel Washington
John Q. Archibald
James Woods
Dr. Turner
Anne Heche
Rebecca Payne
Kimberly Elise
Denise Archibald
Daniel E. Smith
Michael 'Mike' Archibald
David Thornton
Jimmy Palumbo
Kevin Connolly
Steve Maguire
Paul Johansson
Tuck Lampley
Laura Harring
Gina Palumbo
Mark Burg
Producer
Avram "Butch" Kaplan
Executive Producer
Richard Saperstein
Executive Producer
Michael De Luca
Executive Producer
Rogier Stoffers
Cinematographer
Stefania Cella
Production Designer
Dede Allen
Film Editor
Aaron Zigman
Original Music
Beatrix Aruna Pasztor
Costume Designer
Matthew Carnegie
Art Direction
Elis Lam
Art Direction
Mathew Hart
Unit Production Manager
Avram "Butch" Kaplan
Unit Production Manager
William M. Connor
First Assistant Director
Tony Kenny
Special Effects Supervisor
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News & Interviews for John Q

Critic Reviews for John Q

All Critics (132) | Top Critics (41) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (101)

Audience Reviews for John Q

  • Mar 22, 2017
    There are very few films starring Denzel Washington that are anything less than good. John Q is no exception, despite what critics say. It's incredibly heartbreaking, and undoubtedly compelling material. Denzel raises the stakes with his complex performance, which is thoroughly masterful. From the subtle lip quiver when a cop tells him nobody cares to the waterfall of tears he sheds in the final act; it's one of his finest performances. Flawed by painfully corny dialogue in the beginning and tail end, there isn't much else to complain about: it's a powerhouse of heart-stopping drama coupled with a relevant (even over a decade later) commentary on the American healthare system.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 22, 2012
    entertaining, but too many unlikely coincidences, too many distracting subplots
    Ed K Super Reviewer
  • May 24, 2012
    John Q is a good drama film that could have been much better. With Denzel Washington in the lead, it single handily saves this film from a being a bad film. The script has its flaws, but for the most part it succeeds at delivering a good two hour film. Washington as usual delivers on-screen, and he alone makes this film watchable. I enjoyed the film, thought it was an exciting drama film with a good cast starring opposite Denzel Washington. This may not be the best dramatic thriller, but for what it is, it manages to be a thrill ride from beginning to end. There are things that could have been done better, but for the most part, Denzel Washington's good acting elevates the film from being a mediocre affair to a good film. This is a good film to watch for a mindless two hours. The film has its imperfections, but for most of the time, the formula delivers excitement, drama and thrills. At times the script suffers, but like I said, Washington's performance makes up for it. John Q is entertaining and is a must see film for Denzel Washington fans. This is an underrated film and it doesn't deserve all the flack it has received. Sure it has it flaws, but it is entertaining from start to finish, and it has another solid performance from Denzel Washington, an actor who can turn a somewhat lacking film into something watchable. This is a good film for what it is, and deserves a bit more praise than it has received.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Aug 02, 2011
    John Q. Archibald: My son is dying, and I'm broke. If I don't qualify for Medicare, WHO THE HELL DOES?  "Give a father no choice and you leave him no option" How far would a father go for his son? Yeah. That's never been done before. And guess what. It's been done way better. John Q is an unoriginal, cliche, overly dramatic movie that even manages to rip off Dog Day Afternoon. Denzel Washington is always good, so I'm not going to complain about him, as he was okay. Everyone else for the most part sucked. Duvall and Liota weren't what I would call bad, but they were playing characters they could play in their sleep. Heche and Woods were bad, but I think a lot of the was their material. Kimberly Elise was horrible as the mother of the dying kid. Okay, now for what I really don't like about this movie. The story is dramatic enough. We have a kid who needs a heart transplant and a father that can't pay for it. But Cassavates goes to extreme lengths to add as many cliche gimmicks as he can to the film. Such as a heart monitor counting down and a series of close calls for the father. He has no confidence in the material and feels the need to insert as much garbage as possible. The movie is very predictable. If you know the premise; after the first scene of the movie you will know what is going to happen.  John Q really is a bad movie. It should and could have been a tearjerker. But I was never emotionally involved. I honestly didn't care because I knew what was going to happen and I was really getting sick of watching the horrible dialogue and characters. I believe the common moviegoer will love this movie. But if you've seen more then 3 or 4 of these type of movies; do yourself a favor and give this one a pass.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer

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